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Trends and Outliers

TIBCO Spotfire's Business Intelligence Blog

Monthly Archives: November 2011


Can Analytics Predict Fashion Trends?

predicitve analytics and fashion 300x168 Can Analytics Predict Fashion Trends?

If you follow fashion — and maybe if you don’t — you probably know that Victoria’s Secret annual fashion show delivered its biggest rating ever Tuesday night, and even ranked as the evening’s highest-rated show.

The special, which aired at 10 p.m., was seen by 10.3 million viewers and scored a huge 4.6 rating among adults 18-49 — up 35 from last year. That’s the show’s biggest audience since 2002 and its largest rating during its nine-year history.

With so many people interested in fashion (wishful thinking?), I decided to investigate whether technology can predict next season’s top fashions.

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Top 7 Predictions for BI in 2012

BI Predictions 2012 Top 7 Predictions for BI in 2012It’s almost that time of year again. For some of us it’s time to start thinking about making resolutions for the new year we’re probably never going to keep.

For others, it’s time to look into the future and make a few predictions for business intelligence in 2012.

I’ll be honest. I fit into the first category. Forrester Research Vice President and Principal Analyst, Boris Evelson (@bevelson), on the other hand, took his crystal ball out of storage recently and came up with his top 10 predictions for BI in 2012.

Let’s take a look at seven of his ten predictions:

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Predictive Analysis: Toys that Rock for the Holidays

Holiday Gift Finder Predictive Analytics 300x205 Predictive Analysis: Toys that Rock for the HolidaysAh, Cyber Monday. The day 51% of American workers plan to hit the Internet to shop for holiday gifts—some will even spend two or more hours shopping for great deals online.

I’ll probably do a little cybershopping today, hoping to snag some hot toys for the children of a friend of mine. I remember when my son was little some of the the must-have toys were Teddy Ruxpin and the original Cabbage Patch Kids (OK, maybe they were more for me than him, but you get the idea). I’d stand in line for hours so he could wake up Christmas morning and find that year’s hot toy under the tree.

That got me to wondering what the predictions were for this year’s sizzlin’ toys. So without further ado, let’s take a look.

Full disclosure: I love Elmo. C’mon who doesn’t? Sesame Street’s furry little red monster with a positive attitude captured my heart many, many years ago and he hasn’t let go.

So imagine my disappointment when I happened upon this social media monitoring study that determined that Sesame Street’s “Let’s Rock! Elmo” wasn’t going to be one of the smokin’ hot toys this year.

The study, conducted by Ann Michaels & Associates, used predictive analytics to determine how effective monitoring social media sites is in determining which toys are the “must haves” for consumers this season.

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Filed under: Predictive Analytics


The Data Analytics of Thanksgiving

Tomorrow, nearly 91% of Americans will don their stretchy pants for a turkey dinner. In honor of the day of the year when we’re most thankful, we’re bringing you a little food for thought on the data analytics of Thanksgiving.

thanksgiving The Data Analytics of Thanksgiving

The first course of Thanksgiving analysis brings us way back to the 1600s – 1621 to be exact. This is believed to be one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in North America; the Plymouth colonists (known as the Pilgrims) and the Wampanoag Indians gathered around the dinner table to celebrate a harvest feast. And turkey did not grace the table.

For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. It wasn’t until 1863 that President Abraham Lincoln pronounced a national Thanksgiving day every November. (

Since 1934, Turkey Day has been a favorite day for NFL action and if you’re into stuffing your face and watching the big games, there’s a whole host of stats and info available on the Pro Football Hall of Fame site.

In 1939 and 1940, President Roosevelt decided to move Thanksgiving a week earlier to protect the holiday shopping season. Some states celebrated on the third Thursday; others celebrated on the fourth. In 1941, Congress sanctioned the last or the fourth Thursday of November (when there are five weeks in the month).

Timid Turkeys

America’s favorite bird has a  bit of a weak heart. The U.S. Air Force discovered that the sound of breaking the sound barrier during test runs scares turkeys to death – they suffer heart attacks when too frightened.

The wild ones can even run up to 20 miles per hour and fly up to 55 miles per hour when they’re scared featherless. Domestic turkeys (the ones we eat) aren’t so fortunate. They are considered too fat to fly.

National Bird?

While the turkey is the national bird of Thanksgiving, the tasty tom did not make the cut for national bird, much to Benjamin Franklin’s dismay.

Side Items

The most popular sides for Thanksgiving include 245 Statues of Liberties worth of green bean casserole, 6,800 football fields worth of corn and 2,700 swimming pools of mashed potatoes.

To Grandma’s House We Go!

According to the Wall Street Journal, Americans aren’t missing Grandma’s stuffing this year. The WSJ reported Tuesday that about 42.5 million people will travel at least 50 miles from home between Wednesday and Sunday. About 90% of the travelers will drive. That’s 4% over the same period in 2010.

Next steps: Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving and Tweet us with your favorite Thanksgiving dish.

Amanda Brandon
Spotfire Blogging Team


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Data Analytics and the Importance of Socializing Your Data

Data Analytics Socialization of Data Data Analytics and the Importance of Socializing Your DataThe fact is we live in a real-time world where data analytics and data overload are becoming more pervasive by the minute. Business decision makers have to know what’s happening now, as well as what will likely happen tomorrow.

What’s also pervasive today is social networking. In fact, organizations of all sizes are adopting social technologies to reap the benefits of social platforms: real-time communication, mobile updates, sense of personality and of course, real-time insights or analysis.

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The Business Value of Collaborative Analytics

collaborative data analytics 300x261 The Business Value of Collaborative AnalyticsCompanies that have developed advanced analytical capabilities will be more competitive than their peers whose analytical aptitudes aren’t as fully ripened, according to a recent IBM-MIT study.

The study, which is based on insights from more than 4,500 managers and executives, identifies three “progressive” levels of analytical sophistication among organizations: Aspirational; Experienced; and Transformed. Thirty-seven percent of Aspirational companies – those that are just getting started using analytics – reported that they’re more competitive as a result of using analytics.

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Predictive Analytics Q&A with Tom Davenport

Tom Davenport Predictive Analytics1 Predictive Analytics Q&A with Tom DavenportTom Davenport is the President’s Distinguished Professor of Information Technology and Management at Babson College, the co-founder and research director of the International Institute for Analytics, and a Senior Advisor to Deloitte Analytics. He has published widely on the topics of analytics in business, process management, information and knowledge management, and enterprise systems. His most recent book is Analytics at Work: Smarter Decisions, Better Results, with Jeanne Harris and Bob Morison. He wrote or edited twelve other books, and has written over 100 articles for such publications as Harvard Business Review, Sloan Management Review, the Financial Times, and many other publications.

Q What will facilitate the greater adoption of analytics?  Improving analysis skills, easier to use analytics tools, awareness of the value of analytics, availability of data?

A – All of the above, I think. Right now the two fastest-moving drivers are the greater availability of data and the “marketing” of analytics by researchers and writers like me, and vendors alike. And I expect that both of these drivers, and the other two as well, have a long way to run.

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Filed under: Predictive Analytics


Ease of Use the Key to Dashboards That Work for Everyone

analytics dashboard that works for everyone Ease of Use the Key to Dashboards That Work for EveryoneIf there’s anything we’ve learned about the growth of analytics it’s that users demand an easy to use, simple to share dashboard view to speed up the arrival of insights that fuel decision making.

As we saw in a recent blog post by David Menninger of Ventana Research, the design and user experience are real markers left by the late Steve Jobs. Apple’s focus on design and devices are based around being simple enough that even a toddler can operate it.

While user experience is a major component of a BI application, it’s the dashboard view that we’re after in using analytics to make informed decisions. The Internet has trained today’s technology users to look for information in an instant, to have an interactive experience and to share data quickly.

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How ‘Free-Dimensional’ Analytics are Enabling Social Collaboration

spotfire 4.0 BI collaboration dashboard 300x286 How ‘Free Dimensional’ Analytics are Enabling Social Collaboration Stop and think for a moment about why you use business intelligence (BI) tools. OK, time’s up.

There’s only one right answer: to get the right information to the right people at the right time so they can make the right business decisions—and to allow them to share and discuss that information. If they can’t do that then you’ve wasted all that data you’ve collected with those great BI tools.

It’s not enough to generate pages and pages of manual reports that most likely have the answers to at least some of the execs’ questions but don’t organize those answers in a meaningful way. Not only that, but those reports don’t give decision makers the critical, real-time data they need because they’re not updated all that frequently. And they certainly don’t enable decision makers to easily share any of that information.

But there is a solution to all those problems—BI dashboards.

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The Data Analytics of Veterans Day

Today, we’ll honor the men and women who have dedicated their lives to protecting our freedom. This Veterans Day, we encourage all you data pros to check out the US Department of Veterans Affairs National Center for Veterans Analysis & Statistics.

The site is a treasure trove of data insights dating all the way back to the American Revolution. The VA does a nice job organizing the data and gives you lots to ponder from surveys, to population maps like the one below, and the amount of services/benefits veterans use.

veterans65older 300x224 The Data Analytics of Veterans Day

One of the newest analysis pieces is a comprehensive report titled The National Survey of Veterans, Active Duty Service Members, Activated National Guard and Reserve Members, Family Members and Survivors. The report takes a while to read at 350 pages, but there are some valuable insights into our military men and women and their families and how the VA helps them.

Another interesting stop on the site is the Profile on Veterans. This report gives some interesting factoids and a nice slice of how veterans compare with the rest of the population. Here are a few interesting nuggets from the profile:

  • The average age of all veterans is 49 years.
  • Male veterans live longer than non-veteran males. The profile shows that the male vet population over 75 is 23.1% and just 2.6% for non-veteran males.
  • Women veterans and non-veteran women live about the same amount of time. There is no real statistical difference between women (vets and non-vets) over 75.
  • Male veterans appear in management and professional roles more often than non-veteran men. The same holds true for women vets. Additionally, male and female veterans are more often found in government jobs.
  • Veterans tend to make more money than their civilian counterparts.

Here are a few other resources for learning about the men and women who protect us:

Amanda Brandon
Spotfire Blogging Team








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